Tori Strunk recently earned her NC Environmental Education Certification. As an environmental educator at the Eastway Regional Recreation Center in Mecklenburg County, Tori teaches community members about the natural environment, what's in it and why it is important. She enjoys educating others about plants the most and says she will talk about plants to anyone who will listen.
Tori says her favorite part about earning her certification was going out of her comfort zone and meeting new people. She enjoyed learning about all of the resources available to educators from different state agencies like the NC Department of Air Quality.”
When asked which experience during the program stood out for her, Tori says it was taking the Leopold Education Project Workshop. “The workshop was held at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve and there were at least 20 of my peers who attended. Not only was I taught how to interpret scientific information differently, I was also able to network with people in our field from all over North Carolina.”
For her community partnership project, Tori coordinated and wrote a program on invasive plant species at Latta Nature Preserve. “I specifically focused on Autumn Olive because it is one of the most abundant invasive plant species on the preserve. There is a new nature center on the preserve called Quest and the Autumn Olive was very dense around the building. I was able to bring the Carolina Raptor Center volunteers to participate in my program and in an invasive plant removal. Hopefully, my program brought awareness to the negative impacts of invasive plant species.”
When asked if participating in the program changed her approach to teaching, Tori says she learned different methods of teaching. “I was able to take many courses on subjects I didn't know and that broaden my environmental education knowledge. I was also able to learn how to teach to specific age groups like elementary children.”
Tori says the program changed the way she viewed environmental issues. “Now I think that all environmental issues can be fixed, it just takes a community to fix it.”